Accepting death is difficult. But it becomes a tricky situation when you are the one diagnosed with a terminal illness. A wide range of emotions can come rushing down, ranging from hurt and denial to deep sadness and frustration. Some people would go silent and feel numb while others would feel guilty and fearful. All these are normal responses as there is no right or wrong way to react to such news.
Your new diagnosis can change your mindset, your priorities, and how you live your life. You must forgive yourself in advance for however you react to your situation in the future. Now that you know that your clock is ticking, it pays to start planning on how you can make the most out of your remaining time.
The first thing you need to do is to try to educate yourself. Learn how your new illness can affect your life. Knowing what to expect as your condition progresses will you take the necessary steps to make things a lot more comfortable for you.
There are numerous sources of information, but your attending doctors are the best people to ask your questions. You can also consider looking for other people who are experiencing the same thing or has a loved one who underwent the same challenge. The more you know, the easier it will be to make peace with yourself and make the decision to make the most out of your remaining time.
It is also a good idea to talk openly about your illness. This way, you and your loved ones can focus on talking about your feelings and expressing your thoughts. Tell them that their support matters so much and that you too will try to support them during these trying times.
Set Your Priorities Straight
Do you plan on taking chances of prolonging your life by pursuing available treatment options? Maybe all you want is to spend your remaining time with your loved ones? Or maybe you want something in between?
Knowing your priorities can help ensure you get to spend your time left the way you want it to. The option you choose can determine which one will dictate your life from now on. This will also help you find the right person to assume your responsibilities when to let go of certain individuals and what to focus your precious time on.
For instance, you prefer dying at home while being surrounded by your loved one. You can consult a hospice facility and have a hospice nurse come over to ensure your comfort while still honoring your wishes. You can also start planning your funeral and processing different paperwork depending on your plans, including the following.
- Living will
- Last will and testament
- Personal property memorandum
- Digital assets memorandum
- Physician orders for life-sustaining treatment
- Healthcare proxy or the power of attorney for healthcare
- Do not intubate or do not resuscitate orders (DNI/DNR)
- Life insurance
- Organ donor designation
Use This Chance to Say What You Need to Say
If there is one good thing about knowing that your time is almost over, it is the fact that you get the chance to say the things you no longer want to take to your grave. You can tell your loved ones how much you love them, forgive and ask for forgiveness in return, etc. Unlike sudden death, it is usually too late before one of both the person and their loved one gets the chance to say the things that need to be said.
Use this time to tell your family, friends, or basically anyone the thing you always wanted to tell them. This will make you feel at peace knowing you get to tell them you love, forgive, or are proud and thankful of them. Remember your old memories together and be thankful for you are still given the chance to spend a little bit more time with them.
Enjoy the Little Things
Whenever things feel too much, choose to stop, take a deep breath, and take time to enjoy the little things. Enjoy eating each meal with the family. Enjoy a stroll at the park if possible and watch how beautiful nature is.
You can consider browsing old photos, watching old videos, and remember each moment you had in the past. Sing your favorite song, hold the hands of your loved one, and hold your little one. Cherish every moment you get to spend time with your loved ones.
It can be very difficult to accept that your time is up so soon. You get to choose how you wish to spend your last days. Make it each day, hour, and second count. You may lack the gift of time. But how you use your remaining time is what matters the most. Choose to be happy, find closure be around the people you love the most.